RARA-AVIS: RE:The Long Goodbye

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@adelphia.net)
Date: 21 Aug 2003

Robert Altman wasn't the first choice of director on the project. Sterling Silliphant wrote a script that supposedly had played up the element of Mexican-American drug smuggling (as if the book hadn't enough plot). I tried to dig it out of MGM at one point and failed. Perhaps it was Bogdanovich who was going to do it with Mitchum? And then all that fell apart and a new set of filmmakers came aboard, including director Brian Hutton, Elliott Gould and Leigh Brackett. Bracket has written that the present ending (minus the "Hooray For Hollywood" music and dance) was in her draft at that point. It had also been decided that the film would truncate the Marlowe-Lennox-Silvia story in favor of the Marlowe-Wade story. For some reason, the start of filming was delayed and Hutton moved on. Altman was hired and he made an Altman movie, what else. His concept was that, though Chandler depicted Marlowe as a loser he copped out at the end, turning him into a winner. He, Altman, was going to make him a real loser. Still, the final meeting between Marlowe and Terry Lennox, which is probably the part of the movie most loathed by Chandler purists (with good reason), was Brackett's contribution and not Altman's. Oddly enough, in its own negative way, the ending makes Marlowe more of a winner, by today's standards, than the book does.

Dick Lochte

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